Lightweight Linux Revival

By | 21/06/2016

I have an old laptops not being used anymore (2gb RAM , Intel Core 2 Duo 1.73 Hz), which needed to be revived. It originally had Windows 7 installed on it and despite a fresh re-install, was slow to boot, and when it was ready to use, would  plod along like OAP donkey carrying a load of bricks. So I’ve taken Windows 7 off and have tried a few flavours of lightweight Linux distributions on it. This is what I have tried, and eventually settled on:

Zorin – installed ok. This distro is not necessarily a lightweight Linux distro, but one designed to match the MS Windows experience more closely, which is why I chose it first, as I am really a Windows user. I was using it for several weeks. It comes installed with Wine so can run MS Windows apps fairly well. I gave up on this in the end, only because it started to really slow down when I was multitasking with 3 or more apps open at the same time (spreadsheet, word processor, PDF reader, web browser). I liked the OS and would certainly use it on a more powerful PC, but for my lowly, ageing, laptop it was just too demanding on resources. All the other Linux distributions I used below could handle the same multitasking well enough so perhaps comparing Zorin to them is a bit unfair. I would certainly recommend Zorin for a mid to high spec PC/laptop.


LuBuntu – Installed ok, but I spent a couple of hours trying to fix an error message on boot. It turns out that lubuntu does not install Intel graphics drivers by default (which my laptop has). I also discovered that the package required to install those drivers is not setup by default in lubuntu so you have to go into the command line, link to the package then download the drivers. Esay enough if you know how, but if you do not know how to do this (as I did not) it’s a long, time consuming job trying to work out what’s wrong and how to fix it. After so much messing about on the command line, I did get it working. But this did not fill me with much confidence, what else might not work ? As I have no interest or time to become a Linux command line expert, I gave up with LuBuntu, too much command line nonsense on my laptop.


Bodhi Linux – Installed ok. Minimal set of apps installed by default. Worked well, but while I was getting familiar with the interface, I somehow deleted the menu bar at the bottom of the screen. I did manage to get a toolbar back, but not the one I saw originally. Also, I use the Synology Disk Drive app , but this new toolbar would not show the icon for this application, despite trying to add various modules to the bar. However, the app icon was displayed in the original toolbar. I  gave up with Bodhi, as I just don’t have the time to learn enough about the desktop environment to get that original toolbar back. This was completely my fault, so I’m not knocking Bodhi, apart from saying that the desktop menu interface could be more intuitive, otherwise I would have found how to get the menu bar back. If I could not figure out how to do that simple task, then I did have much confidence that I could quickly fix or adjust anything else in the future.



LXLE – This is the distro I am currently using and will stick with. Installed ok, user interface is very intuitive, has a very good selection of apps installed by default. I found customising the interface much more intuitive than Bodhi as the naming of menu options and features just seemed more along the lines of what I would expect. Even with a nice photographic desktop background, my little laptop could handle multitasking very well. This is the distribution I felt more instantly comfortable with as a windows user. However, I am not including Zorin as that’s an unfair comparison on my old laptop. My only gripe is (and it’s a very small one), the option to display the menu bar at the bottom of the screen is greyed out by default. You can place the menu bar at the top, left, right , but not the bottom ???? I’m sure there is a way to fix this, just need to find the time to search the forums for the answer. LXLE is the distro I am sticking with for the moment.